baptistery

/bap"teuh stree, -tis teuh ree/, n., pl. baptisteries.
1. a building or a part of a church in which baptism is administered.
2. (esp. in Baptist churches) a tank for administering baptism by immersion.
[1425-75; < LL baptisterium < Gk baptistérion bathing place (see BAPTIST, -ERY); r. late ME baptizatory < ML baptizatorium]

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Domed hall or chapel, adjacent to or part of a church, for the administration of baptism.

By the 4th century, the baptistery had assumed an eight-sided shape (eight in Christian numerology being the symbol for a new life), as had the baptismal font within. The font itself was set beneath a dome-shaped baldachin and encircled by columns and an ambulatory (aisle), features first used by the Byzantines.

Battistero (baptistery) San. Giovanni, Florence, begun 7th century

Alinari-Art Resource

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      hall or chapel situated close to, or connected with, a church, in which the sacrament of baptism is administered. The form of the baptistery originally evolved from small, circular Roman buildings that were designated for religious purposes (e.g., the Temple of Venus, Baalbek, Lebanon, AD 273, and the Mausoleum of Diocletian, Spalato [Split, Croatia], AD 300); but because baptism originally was performed on only three holidays, Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany, enlargement of the older Roman buildings became necessary to accommodate the growing numbers of converts.

      Baptisteries were among the most symbolic of all Christian architectural forms; and the characteristic design that was developed by the 4th century AD can be seen today in what is probably the earliest extant example, the baptistery of the Lateran palace in Rome, built by Sixtus III, pope between 432 and 440.

      The baptistery was commonly octagonal in plan, a visual metaphor for the number eight, which symbolized in Christian numerology a new beginning. As eight follows the “complete” number, seven, so the beginning of the Christian life follows baptism. Customarily, a baptistery was roofed with a dome, the symbol of the heavenly realm toward which the Christian progresses after the first step of baptism. The baptismal font was usually octagonal, set beneath a domical ciborium, or canopy, and encircled by columns and an ambulatory—features that were first used in the baptistery by the Byzantines when they altered Roman structures.

      Baptisteries commonly adjoined the atrium, or forecourt, of the church and were often large and richly decorated, such as those at Pisa, Florence, Parma, and Nocera in Italy; el Kantara, Alg.; and Poitiers, France. After the 6th century they were gradually reduced to the status of small chapels inside churches. In the 10th century, when baptism by affusion (pouring liquid over the head) became standard practice in the church, baptisteries, or baptismal chapels, were often omitted entirely.

      In most modern churches the font alone serves for baptism; something of earlier symbolism survives, however, in its usual location near the church door—an allusion to entering the Christian life.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baptistery — • The separate building in which the Sacrament of Baptism was once solemnly administered, or that portion of the church edifice later set apart for the same purpose Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Baptistery     Baptistery …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Baptistery — Bap tis*ter*y,Baptistry Bap tis*try, n.; pl. {Baptisteries}, {Baptistries}. [L. baptisterium, Gr. baptisth rion: cf. F. baptist[ e]re.] (Arch.) (a) In early times, a separate building, usually polygonal, used for baptismal services. Small… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • baptistery — (also baptistry) ► NOUN (pl. baptisteries) ▪ a building or part of a church used for baptism …   English terms dictionary

  • baptistery — [bap′tistrē] n. pl. baptistries [bap′tis tər ē, bap′tistrē] n. baptisteries [LL (Ec) baptisterium, baptismal font < L, place for bathing < Gr baptistērion < baptizein,BAPTIZE] 1. a place, esp. a part of a church, used for baptizing 2. a… …   English World dictionary

  • Baptistery — In Christian architecture the baptistery or baptistry (Latin baptisterium ) is the separate centrally planned structure surrounding the baptismal font. The baptistery may be incorporated within the body of a church or cathedral and be provided… …   Wikipedia

  • baptistery —    A baptistery is a building where Baptism is conferred. Although the baptistery in some places is a separate building, more commonly a baptistery is a separate part of the church, such as a chapel; since the Second Vatican Council,the place for …   Glossary of theological terms

  • baptistery —    A building used for baptism in the Christian church. A famous example is the Baptistery of the Duomo, the cathedral in Florence, Italy. Also spelled baptistry …   Glossary of Art Terms

  • baptistery — baptisterija statusas T sritis Kūno kultūra ir sportas apibrėžtis Senovės Graikijoje – pirtis. kilmė gr. baptistērion – maudyklė; krikšto indas atitikmenys: angl. baptistery vok. Baptisterium, n rus. баптистерия …   Sporto terminų žodynas

  • baptistery — baptisterija statusas T sritis Kūno kultūra ir sportas apibrėžtis Šalto vandens plaukykla senovės Romos termose. kilmė gr. baptistērion – maudyklė; krikšto indas atitikmenys: angl. baptistery vok. Baptisterium, n rus. баптистерия …   Sporto terminų žodynas

  • baptistery — or baptistry noun (plural teries or tries) Date: 14th century a part of a church or formerly a separate building used for baptism …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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